The Profound Pause: Hospital Social Media for Centers of Excellence

I called a very good friend of mine the other day and when she answered, I immediately knew something was wrong. “Are you okay?” I asked. “My younger sister has breast cancer,” she said. I drew in my breath.

My friend’s sister is young—mid-thirties—with two children, and the news was totally unexpected. The whole family was in shock while they discussed mastectomies and radiation and childcare and bills. At moments like these, there seem to be profound pauses in our lives—defining stillnesses, while the rest of the world continues on, much like a boulder in the middle of a rushing river. In these instances, there must to be time for absorbing the nature of the news, the choices, the consequences, the innumerable new feelings.

These pauses are not always caused by bad news. Sometimes, they’re inspired by joyous discoveries—a long-awaited pregnancy, a much-needed organ donation, or a new treatment or experimental drug for a chronic condition.

As I’ve watched my friend’s family gather around each other and work out plans this last week, I’ve been even further convinced that social media is a gift for people dealing with these types of drastic life changes. When you’re in the middle of a profound pause, information is key. If your life plans are jolted suddenly, reorienting guideposts are crucial. The more accurate information is available, the clearer the future becomes.

Centers of excellence, or institutes of specialty medicine in any form, are in a good position for social media because their focus is uniquely clear. Usually, they do one thing and do it very well (oncology, joint replacement, etc.). Patients, therefore, have very similar needs and, usually, benefit greatly from not only a wealth of information, but also from a strong, supportive community. Consequently, if your hospital is debating where to begin your social media venture, a center of excellence is an ideal starting point.

I’ve compiled some examples of excellent social media from these institutes below. They share some defining characteristics: (1) They’re highly focused; (2) they’re compassionate; (3) they’re timely. In other words, since these centers are on the forefront of what they do, they take their best information and generously share it. They acknowledge the life changes their patients and families are facing and provide them with tools for the future.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Web Casts
Patient Stories at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Johns Hopkins Children’s Center YouTube channel

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Hive Strategies helps hospitals engage patients through social media. We don’t manage social media. Instead, we help hospitals develop an effective social media strategy and mentor them through the implementation process. Start a conversation. Email us or call us at 503-472-5512.

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